Getting the most from your cloud provider

It helps to know how to navigate and who to connect with

Can you guess what is the most asked question we get from startup founders as AWS Startup Advocates? It is, "How can I get more AWS credits?" 😲

We totally understand! With startup funding super tight right now and startups forced to extend their runway, they are looking to cut costs wherever they can. Outside of salaries, cloud infrastructure is one of the biggest expenses for a startup and credits to cover those costs helps control the burn rate.

While we want to do as much as we can in our capacity to help founders, we cannot help with getting startups more credits. This often leads to the second most asked question we receive which is, “Who do I talk to at AWS to get help?”

This is a fair question! Much of the experience starting and building on AWS was built from the ground up to be entirely self-service. As long as there was documentation, product updates on the blog, and a support channel, most startups were fine not speaking with anyone.

Most cloud providers are self-service, but there is always help available

Even as the offerings from AWS grew, most founders were comfortable with the arm’s length approach. They could get help from a vast array of resources such as Stack Overflow, YouTube videos, AWS User Groups, and the growing number of certified AWS practitioners around the globe. They could also go to any of our events like Summits, Startup Days, and AWS re:Invent if they wanted in-person help.

For technical help, this was perfectly fine. Most technical co-founders could easily navigate around the AWS Console or figure things out. What about when it comes to optimizing costs, scaling strategies, using the AWS Marketplace, or how to extend your AWS credits? And for non-technical co-founders, they often need the basics like how to setup an AWS account, among other things.

Beyond the general technical or business-oriented questions, there are a whole host of things that cloud providers offer that startups often overlook. While we can only speak for AWS, we are regularly sharing with founders the many programs created specifically for startups, from AWS Activate to our Loft and in-person events to our Accelerator programs to our AWS Partner Network (APN).

For all of these reasons, it makes a ton of sense to speak to someone directly. But who do you reach out to and how do you get in touch?

You could be forgiven if your answer is Basil and Mark 😂 While we do our best to address any and all queries we receive either in-person or across every conceivable social channel, we are also only two people constantly on the go. What we tend to do is pass along requests that we receive to the most appropriate person or team in AWS.

So who are the most appropriate people within AWS  to connect with? In our typical customer obsessed manner, we put together the following guide of roles and teams across AWS so that you can be more familiar with how AWS works and who best to engage based on what you need!

  • Account Managers (AMs) – Primary point of contact with AWS for business or technical matters (other than for support related issues). As a startup grows, the account team will be more actively involved with everything from tactical needs to long-term strategic goals to help the startup scale.

  • Business Development Managers (BDMs) – Former founders, operators, and investors that help with business introductions, partnership or co-marketing opportunities, and GTM strategy resources. They also manage ecosystem relationships with VC’s, incubators, accelerators, and strategic startups

  • Solutions Architects (SAs) – Guide technical solutions for startups. SAs are best engaged early in building so they can recommend the best architecture and AWS services. SAs also gather feedback and submit it to the service team as product feature requests (PFRs), which drive ninety percent of our roadmaps.

  • Technical Account Managers (TAMs) – Onboard startups to AWS and are a resource to plan, build, and troubleshoot solutions following best practices based on our Well-Architected Framework. TAMs can be engaged if a startup has an enterprise support plan or through enterprise on-ramp.

  • Technical Support Engineers – Within AWS Support to help startups one-on-one troubleshoot problems, address “how to” question, and solve service issues, as well as complement SAs and TAMs to provide 24x7 support.

  • Product Managers (PMs) – Sit within Service Teams (the engineering organization of AWS) to engage customers for feedback on feature prioritization or gain insights into how AWS can help them offload some of their administrative or operational workloads to the cloud.

There is also an entire AWS Partner Network (APN) team to assist startups in scaling with AWS through go-to-market motions, leveraging the AWS Marketplace, and implement partner solutions. When a startup joins APN, the Partner Management Team helps with onboarding:

  • Partner Development Representatives (PDRs) – Primary point of contact on the partner team to assist startups with any questions and to connect startups with the right APN resources.

  • Partner Development Managers (PDMs) – Drive growth of listings on the AWS Marketplace by helping startups develop go-to-market (GTM) plans and strategies.

  • Partner Solutions Architects (PSAs) – Work alongside PDRs and PDMs as the technical point of contact for consultations, workshops, and AWS Well-Architected Framework reviews.

The Partner Success Team works with the account teams to assist startups in finding the right partners and solutions that address the needs of a startup:

  • Partner Sales Managers (PSMs) – The primary point of contact on the partner success team to connect startups with partners and access AWS credit programs to address technical or business blockers.

  • Partner Success Solutions Architects (PSSAs) – Work with PSMs to help with partner selection, enablement, technical validation, and own the technical strategy for partner engagements.

These cover most of the roles you would ever engage with on the AWS team. Of course, there are many more teams in the field like the awesome Training & Certification team, professional services, events & field marketing, and our specialist teams that are deep experts in specific industries and technologies.

And what about us, the Startup Advocates? We are in Developer Relations, a team that is dedicated to helping hands-on technical folks like developers, ML engineers, DevOps professionals, data scientists, and others get familiar with AWS. We help educate and inform through speaking at events, content creation, mentoring AWS Heroes and Community Builders, and supporting online communities.

Hopefully you find this brief guide useful and of course, you can still reach out to us for any questions you may have. Let us know what your experiences have been working with the AWS Startups team!

P.S. Shout out to Justin Plock & Kevin Pinkerton on the AWS Startup Solution Architects team, on creating two solid blog posts (here and here) that helped inspire this week’s edition of the newsletter

Nothing at all happened over the past weekend in the tech industry. Except maybe a mild reshuffling of leadership at one of the most well-known companies in the AI space right now, OpenAI 🤯

The situation is still fluid and it seems like there is no other topic of discussion right now on Twitter than the OpenAI saga. Everyone seems to have an opinion, so we will not add more noise. One thing that was interesting though was the discussion of power dynamics between startup founders and their boards.

We read a number of very passionate stories from founders about their own experience in getting fired by their startups. There was one story of a founder Mark knew well in NYC that got kicked out overnight from his startup by his co-founder! There was also a recent TechCrunch post about how startups should prepare for potential founder breakup 😬

The relationship a founder has with their board is one that can be just as complex and challenging as that of your co-founders. We gathered a few credible resources though to give you some pointers:

With the short week in the US with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we are sending out this edition earlier than normal. That also means we do not have all the much to share this week in our community section.

As AWS re:Invent is next week, all sights on the biggest AWS announcements of the year. All you have to do is register here to gain access to the livestream. There will be a number of keynote speakers that you can watch via Livestream that you can find on the AWS re:Invent keynotes page.

Even though the blockbuster product announcements are usually prepared for re:Invent, this year was super active in terms of big product releases. Check out this post by Mark summarizing the biggest news this year in the AWS world!

For our US readers, happy Turkey Day, and for everyone else, catch you next week!